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May 13, 2006

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» Fitz Includes Cheney's Handwritten Notes on Wilson's Op-Ed in Court Filing from TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime
Is Dick Cheney the next "Official A"? Late Friday, Patrick Fitzgerald filed a new pleading in the Scooter Libby case. Empty Wheel at Next Hurrah posts the pleading and analyzes the contents, including this exhibit, a copy of Joseph... [Read More]

» Libby May 5 Hearing Transcript from TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime
I have just received the May 5 hearing transcript in the Scooter Libby case (thanks to reporter Jason Leopold for sharing it with me.) I haven't yet read it, so you can have first takes. Update: Christy of Firedoglake... [Read More]

» Whatever happened to the Rove Pool? from In Search Of Utopia
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove. During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of... [Read More]

» President Bush's My Pet Goat Margin Notes from Jon Swift
I have obtained a copy of My Pet Goat with President Bush's notes in the margin, gives remarkable insights into his thoughts for the first seven minutes after he heard about the attack on September 11. [Read More]

» Uranium from Africa: How Bought Became Sought - Part 2-5: The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) from The Left Coaster
This is the next part of a series (see Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 2-1, Part 2-2, Part 2-3, Part 2-4) examining the origins of the bought v. sought semantics of the uranium from Africa allegation. There are two... [Read More]

» Uranium from Africa: The Tangled Web from The Left Coaster
[NOTE: This post discusses a classified memo referenced in Patrick Fitzgerald's recent filing regarding Scooter Libby and explains why that memo could not have bolstered the Bush administration's justification for the use of the false uranium claim in ... [Read More]

Comments

Fitz only goes after politicians and seems to avoid federal employee unions like Plame's CIA.

what's your prediction on the charge against cheney? from what you're laying out it doesn't sound like obstruction but something higher and criminal, even a misdemeanor (in the old fashioned sense).

~pockets

Well, the first question is, Can Fitz charge Cheney? I don't think so. That may be one of the reasons he's playing the slow leak. Because I think he needs to be indicted before he gets charged. But I also think the dying GOP might see taking Cheney out as a useful cleansing process.

But the charges? I guess it depends on Rove. I think there are two conspiracy charges here, one from before and one after the leak. That's the most likely. I also think you can't charge Dick with the IIPA violation, particularly not after the March 2003 Dick can declassify anything E.O.

I think he needs to be indicted before he gets charged

what's the difference? (shows how little I know.)

conspiracy (x2) but not IIPA, thanks. I was wondering which one you were headed towards.

Sorry. Impeached before charged. Fitz may need to name him as an unindicted co-conpirator in some else's indictment to get to him.

And look at it this way. If you were Bush, and you had a last ditch chance to save yourself by sacrificing either your brain or your wayward Dick, wouldn't you sacrifice the one that had caused you so much trouble in the first place?

Anyone familiar with male psychology could tell you that faced with this choice, the brain gets sacrificed 99 times out of 100.

By the way, I'm also very skeptical that Rove has flipped in any way, but if you're looking for motive, consider this -- as you note, on July 14th, Libby was warned of the danger of outing Plame.

And yet the Novak column started a full-tilt PR campaign about "the real story is Wilson and his wife" ... not from Libby, though. From Rove. Who kept making calls until Joe Wilson himself made clear the potential damage on TV a week later.

Get the feeling that Libby didn't tell Karl what the CIA had told him? That Libby basically hung Karl out to dry?

emptywheel, gotcha. I had indictment-impeachment chicken-and-egg the other way around. I like your version better.

Why can't cheney be indicted?

Agnew was indicted as a sitting vice president. what is different about cheney? at the very least, it is my belief that this is an open question that i don't think would stop an indictment. or am i overlooking some precedent?

My questions are (which i have asked before, but did not stick around long enough in a previous comment thread to see if there was an answer): given cheney's ability to declassify, does that mean that nobody can be charged with the iipa violation? next question, if nobody can be charged with the iipa violation, can they still be charged with conspiracy to commit an iipa violation?

Nice post, as usual. I, too, agree that it was probably Cheney who asked the CIA officer about the Novak article.

But I have a slightly different take than you when you write: "Patrick Fitzgerald has laid a few more of his cards on the table, making it increasingly clear that he is closing in on Cheney."

I don't think he's closing in on Cheney. That is, I think Fitz's evidence against Cheney is there, but that he's not inclined to act against Cheney and that Cheney's status is static. The investigation is over (Rove excepted). Something would have to change first. In other words, Cheney remains safe unless someone flips. So maybe Fitz is dangling carrots in front of various witnesses--Libby especially--to let them know that anti-Cheney testimony can be cooberated by other witnesses and documents and that their flippage could make the difference, and be very valuable in terms of their incentive of cooperation. But aside from that, I don't think Fitz is closing in on Cheney.

But with a pardon likely, I happen to think it is crystal clear that Libby ain't gonna flip. I have serious doubts about Rove, too. Plus, I tend to wonder about the constitutional issues of Fitz even being able to indict a sitting VP who never testified under oath. Sure, I suppose false statements and even conspiracy are possible offenses, but I wonder if Fitz is prevented from acting against Cheney even if he had the goods. I would think Congress would be the only body that could act. (Oh, I see that a similar comment has been made on that.)

jk,
I don't believe Agnew was indicted. I think he resigned as part of a deal prior to being indicted. But you may be correct in it being possible to indict a sitting VP.

I don't think he's closing in on Cheney. That is, I think Fitz's evidence against Cheney is there, but that he's not inclined to act against Cheney and that Cheney's status is static.

I'll take a middle option -- Fitzgerald moves at a very deliberate pace. He's known that Cheney is at the heart of this from the very beginning when he saw Libby's notes, but he doesn't proceed until he has nailed down everything he can ... and obviously, if he can get Libby and/or Rove to flip, that will help any case against Cheney immensely.

Is there a downside for Fitz in waiting? He's in no hurry to indict Cheney; in fact, he might be delighted to wait until after Big Dick leaves office in 2008 to minimize the political angle.

Posting from an undisclosed location {a beach in south Texas}
I haven't kept up with this today, but I have to say I am not surprised. Folks need to go reread the IIPA. I think even Cheney can be charged under that statute. I think Libby's truthful testimony is needed to make it stick, but with a Libby conviction in his pocket, Fizgerald might give it a try.

"Is there a downside for Fitz in waiting?"

Absolutely! Frankly, if Fitz is convinced that Rove, Cheney and others are criminals, then he needs to move a tad faster. I'm thrilled that Fitz is fighting the good fight, and he seems like a very honorable dude, but it would be nuts for him to allow them to walk the halls of power any longer than necessary. Aside from Libby (thank you, Fitz!), the same folks are still running the show. Fitz has got to act sooner, and not later. If he were to purposefully wait until after 2008, that would mean he's taking into account real-world consequences in exactly the wrong way.

So while it's good for him to dot every "i" and cross every "t," Fitz's deliberative manner is pretty frustrating at this point. But if he's done investigating, and if he's got no other indictments on the burner, I guess there's nothing to be frustrated about. He spending his time on just Libby.

Fitz has to know that in order for Bush to be removed, Cheney has to go first (the Nixon scenario). There are many ways to get him, among them getting others to testify and making it publicly clear that he is a leaking SOB. Rove wouldn't be above ratting out Cheney if it would protect Bush and his ability to pardon Rove. Especially if Libby did forget to tell Karl about Valerie's civert status. (My money is on Tenet as the one who delivered the warning.) Maybe Libby too, if the threat got strong enough.

For a guy who dozes in public, Cheney has a lot to fear--the Wilkes-Foggo investigation that is going to end up at the Pentagon and all the black ops, which Addington and Cheney pushed; Plame and any future war profiteering investigations of Halliburton and others. Maybe he's on beta blockers or something to calm him down.

The annotated "What I Didn't Find in Africa" is the semen stained dress.

You think that's why they got rid of Goss, because he promised an investigation if we handed him the semen-stained dress?

I just meant that the Cheney-annotated NYT op-ed was equivalent to the semen stained dress. Like you, I think it's the smoking gun. I don't get your allusion to Goss and why they got rid of him, though good riddance.

"Fitz has to know that in order for Bush to be removed, Cheney has to go first (the Nixon scenario)."

But I didn't think Agnew's crimes had anything to do with Watergate, or anything he did while VP. I think it had to do with bribes he took (and perhaps tax evasion) while governor. So I don't think the "Nixon scenario" analogy is apt.

Plus, I don't think Bush has anything directly to do with this. This seems like all Cheney, and nothing we've learned suggests otherwise. So if you want to compare this to Watergate, it is Cheney himself who is Nixon. Cheney would be the endgame.

I haven't looked at the March 2003 EO, but surely it doesn't just say the VEEP can willy-nilly declassify. What if the Pres. wants to maintain classification of something the VP wants to declassify?

To answer an earlier question: Aaron Burr was indicted twice it seems while a sitting vp. And although Agnew did resign as part of a plea deal,

none other that [sic] then-solicitor general Robert Bork concluded that, while "the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions," the vice president was fair game.
per Brad Friedman

Okay, my admittedly non-lawerly stab at IIPA.

First, the relevant portions of the statute:

This section describes the violations:

a) Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) Whoever, as a result of having authorized access to classified information, learns the identity of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

And this section has a few important definitions:

1) The term "classified information" means information or material designated and clearly marked or clearly represented, pursuant to the provisions of a statute or Executive order (or a regulation or order issued pursuant to a statute or Executive order), as requiring a specific degree of protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national security.

(2) The term "authorized", when used with respect to access to classified information, means having authority, right, or permission pursuant to the provisions of a statute, Executive order, directive of the head of any department or agency engaged in foreign intelligence or counterintelligence activities, order of any United States court, or provisions of any Rule of the House of Representatives or resolution of the Senate which assigns responsibility within the respective House of Congress for the oversight of intelligence activities.

(3) The term "disclose" means to communicate, provide, impart, transmit, transfer, convey, publish, or otherwise make available.

(4) The term "covert agent" means—


(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency—
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and

(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States

My reading of the statute says that part A, i.e. a violation by someone "...having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent..." DOES NOT apply to Cheney, Libby or Rove, because if you look at the definition of the word "authorized" wrt access to classified information, you notice that this includes any provisions made by the head of an intelligence agency. That includes CIA distribution controls, such as ORCON and any SCI controls. My guess, though I don't know it for sure, is that OVP personnel (including the VP himself) and certainly Rove, don't fall in that category, because there is no need for the VP or his staff to know the identity of covert agents. And the whole idea behind SCI is to limit the information to a discrete compartment of individuals that have "need to know" that information in order to properly do their jobs.

Fleitz and/or Bolton might fit into this category, though.

The second category, under part B is where Cheney et al. most clearly belong. They obviously have "authorized access to classified information." And someone WITH authorized access to Plame's identity did inform Cheney that she worked at CPD.

However, that someone would not have committed a violation under part A, because Cheney et al. all have "authorized access to classified information" in general, though maybe not to Plame's ID specifically. I don't know if that was Congress's intent in the statute (though I suspect it was, because the statute also clearly states that it's not a violation to disclose the ID of covert agents to either intelligence committee of Congress, implying that some members of those committees may not have the necessary clearances to know the ID). Although, it is kind of strange, because if you read the statute literally, that means even if I just have clearances for "CONFIDENTIAL" info, if you told me about Plame's covert ID, that's not a violation.

Now, where I can see Cheney trying to weasel out of a violation here for Libby is in one of two ways. First, if you look at the definiton of "covert agent" it is a two part test. For one, you must be an officer or employee of an intelligence agency, and your affiliation with such is classified information, AND secondly you must be currently serving overseas or have served overseas in the past 5 years (from when the alleged offense would have occurred).

So I could see Cheney saying to Fitz that he insta-declassified Plame's CIA affiliation, much as he apparently insta-declassified the NIE given his new powers under the EO of March 25th. But of course, that's political suicide, and it also brings us into the sticky philosophical question of "If the VP declassifies something, and no one is around to know about it, is it still classified?", much as does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if no one is there to hear it. Of course, maybe Libby was informed of this insta-declassification, which would be pretty weasly, because if true that would mean that Plame was no longer a "covert agent" under the definitions of IIPA.

Another possibility is that both Libby and Cheney knew Plame's CIA status was classified (which there is abundant evidence to suggest), but they didn't "know" (or at least have plausible deniability to not know) that she had served overseas within the past 5 years. Thus, just telling them that "Valerie Wilson works at CIA" or even "Valerie Plame works in CPD at CIA" doesn't prove that they "know" she necessarily had served overseas. And if you look at part B again, the key to the violation is in "...knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent..." So maybe Scooter has plausible deniability on this (as Fitzgerald actually suggests in fn 15 of his August 2004 affy). Although maybe new info has come to light since then.

So, to sum up, as I see it, currently Fitzgerald cannot prosecute anyone with IIPA, yet. And maybe this is where Rove is so key, because maybe if Rove flips, he can give evidence that either Libby or Dick definitively knew Plame was covert as per the IIPA definition. If Libby definitively knew, he could be charged with an IIPA violation, most likely under section B (5 year prison term). But if Dick knew, it's a bigger problem, because then you can charge conspiracy to commit an IIPA violation, especially if you have evidence that shows Dick ordered Libby to talk to journalists about Plame. Even if Libby himself didn't know that Plame was covert, it doesn't matter for Dick, as that's your overt act in furthering the conspiracy.

It would then be interesting if, faced with a conspiracy charge, Cheney then asserts that he actually did declassify Plame's ID. It would be politically damaging, almost a Col. Jessup moment for the admin. But when you're facing prison? Would Dick actually do that?


Isikoff weighs in: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12774274/site/newsweek/
Nothing new, but hey, he's with the MSM.

Jim E: You missed the point. For anyone who wants Bush to leave office before the end of his term because of his incompetence and malfeasance, the main sticking point is that he would be replaced by Cheney. Same deal--no one wanted to remove Nixon if he would be replaced by Agnew. But when Agnew resigned because of unrelated crimes he committed and was replaced by the consensus candidate Gerald Ford, then it became feasible to talk about removing Nixon one way or the other because Ford would succeed him.

There is no point trying to get Bush removed until Cheney is replaced by a consensus candidate who the Dems could live with as Pres for the remainder of Bush's term. Sorry for the shorthand.

But I do think Bush was involved in the smear of the Wilsons, if only condoning it via Rove. At this point it is denial to think Bush is a good man ill-served by a few bad apples.

All standard caveats apply. That said ...

New Leopold: Rove Already Indicted

Of course, even if this is true, now you've whet our appetites for Cheney ...

"Michael Isikoff" is Karl Rove's pen name.

Rove indicted. See Jeralyn (TL) and Jason Leopold

Wheel, somehow I never caught that Wilson's trip was pro bono. That seems like a terrible point for Cheney to be highlighting. What the fuck kind of boondoggle is pro bono? Was that part of the original smear and I missed it? His wife sent him on a pro bono boondoggle! Why would they think it would impeach Wilson that he isn't in it for the money? Does Cheney take not sharing his love of money as a sign of shadiness? I need to know!

I've also often wondered about the nepotism ruse if Wilson wasn't getting paid.

Mimikatz,

Ah, thanks for the explanation. I get it now.

In terms of Leopold, well, it looks like he doubled-down on his predictions. We'll see. Hopefully we won't ever have to read in a future article from Leopold that Rove was indicted for perjury, misleading statements, obstruction, as well as the murder of JFK, but that he struck a sweet deal with Fitz to keep the indictment sealed and allow himself to go to work at the White House for the rest of Bush's term. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping Leopold's got the best sources of any reporter on this case, but I'm not holding my breath.

"He and his spook wife wanted to remodel the kitchen. They still haven't done it. Run with that," Cheney sneered. "Run!"

I don't believe Leopold - he has been wrong way too many times. There is enough red meat with the Cheney notes without someone blowing unreliable sunshine up all the liberal bloggers skirts.

If I were a wee bit paranoid (and I am - Hello NSA!), I might even believe that Leopold might be used to undermind the liberal blogs. Of course, being completely and totally wrong hasn't hurt Drudge - but I would hope for a higher standard.

WAG Alert (wild ass guess) I just commented this over at fdl. emptywheel's analysis: "Which is another reason to exercise some caution about whether or when Rove will be indicted" opens up the possibility that Leopold's source is accurate. It seems to me, however, that the source has only one goal in leaking, warn the WH that Rove has flipped. The fact that no one but Leopold will publish this, suggests that the source is so thin, that VandeHei, Woodward, won't publish the story.

John Casper

I think it is wrong to assume that Leopold's sources are more unreliable than the MSM. Isikoff has been wrong more often Leopold.

Another WAG Alert. Well I'm hoping Leopold has it right. One thing I'd like to point out is that everyone seems to be accepting the Rove spin that this is just about his forgetting his conversation with Matt Cooper. I maintain that the real charge will be obstruction. I think that Fitzgerald has had the "original" Hadley memo since February 2004. I say original, because the Hadley memo proffered by Rove never sounded quite right: it was too subserviant in tone. I think Rove has made active moves to obscure his role in the Plame Affair and that is what will be the most serious charge. Luskin will be lucky if hedoesn't get a slap on the hands himself.

It's been 24 hours since Leopold's very specific story that Rove was about to be indicted. It's hard to imagine that not a single MSM journalist has been able to confirm the story in that time, or at least confirm enough facts to make it a printable rumor. So I'm thinking it's rather dubious.

William, I'm not sure what you mean. In my prior comment, I do assume that Leopold's source is accurate. The fact is that Leopold is publishing a source that no one else will publish. (It sounds as though this could be the same source who told him Rove had received a target letter before his last GJ appearance.)
Why is no one else publishing this source's leaks except Leopold?
I am not taking a position on Leopold versus MSM or Isikoff.
My concern is that if Leopold's source is accurate, the leaks appear to only help Cheney, they are a signal to him that Rove has flipped.

On Leopold, at least he has updated the news that "Rove WAS indicted" on Saturday: Fitz spent 15 hours with Rove's lawyer Luskin (implying no deal was reached) before warning Rove he had 24 hours to prepare before Fitz went public. Sunday papers, anyone?

Indictment for Rover by next Friday at the lastest.

Two unindicted co-conspirators (Cmimpy and Vice). Sealed indictments.

Bush and Cheney can declassilfy all the NIEs and PDBs they want to, but they cannot out, or cause to be outed, a CIA NOC, putting her life, as well as the lives of her husband and kids, all of her assets abroad, at risk; not to mention blowing an entire CIA front company.

Bush and Cheney knew! Now, Fitzferald knows as well, and he is going to move heaven and earth to prove it.

Rover told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked at the agency in non-proliferation (of the biggest WMD of all, Nuclear). He then told him that he could not say anymore, that he had probably already said too much.

I have never worked in D.C. in my life, but even I would have had second thoughts about outing anyone who worked in that unit, until I checked & re-checked with the CIA, no matter how pissed I was.

Unless, of course, I really did not give a happy rats ass about WMD or attacks on our soil, for whatever reason.

I think JL has sources for events, but that he extrapolates from those events to conclusions. So, say you see Fitz in Luskin's office for the entire day on Friday. Do you conclude he is going to be indicted, or that he has been hammering out a plea deal and singing like a birdie. Frankly, I'm an agnostic on that question. But until I hear from Fitz, I'm going to accept both interpretations as possibilities.

ew, "sources for events," makes an awful lot of sense. He may be reading you grafting your tnh theories, supplanted by all the superior commenters you draw, on the "events" that are his unique "sources." This would explain why no one else is publishing his "leaks."

>"Cheney Penned Note About Plame, Filing Shows"
By R. Jeffrey Smith Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 14, 2006; Page A06
"After former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV publicly criticized a key rationale for the war in Iraq, Vice President Cheney wrote a note on a newspaper clipping raising the possibility that the critique resulted from a CIA-sponsored "junket" arranged by Wilson's wife, covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, according to court documents filed late Friday...."

You have to ask whether a guy would sooner sacrifice his brain or his dick? And then having asked, you suggest that you think the answer is the latter? Emptywheel ... for all your skilled probing of these men's motives, this shakes my faith that you have experience in the ways of the world.

EW - Great work! A quibble and a lagniappe:

#1 - 'a response to Ted Well's'
Ted Wells' client Libby put his foot in the well's bucket.

#2 - A link to the St. Regis Hotel, DC showing the dining room. I'll stick to Denny's.
http://tinyurl.com/6je4s

Re the "pro bono" comment -- this goes back to The Dick's pegging Wilson as a Democratic partisan. If Wilson had been paid a ton of cash to look into the yellowcake story then there'd be no reason to suspect he did it for nefarious political reasons. This is the Republican ethic, remember -- any act is justified as long as you're paid. It's those other reasons for action that are suspect.

I see swopa got there first and more pithily on the Dick v. Brain question. Sorry to be repetitive.

Saltinwound, not only was the "junket" pro bono, it was a junket to Niger. I like third world travel, but Joe Wilson, convertible-driving Esquire model as he's been labeled ... He seems like he's among those 99% of Americans who wouldn't rank the Niger Holiday Inn high on their list of fun little jaunts. If he had gone to the south of Italy to investigate how the Niger document was handed off to the CIA desk there, I might believe it was a junket. Niger? You've got to be kidding me. It's so off-the-wall you have to ask why any reporter would print it without a quote from, say, a travel agent commenting on the absurdity.

And cribbing Michael Isikoff from Swopa's Needlenose post, I want to know where Isikoff found Cheney's notes that "seem to challenge many of Wilson's assertions"? Those notes aren't on my pdf. The only questions on my pdf relate to the smear. Not one refutes anything Wilson said.

Maybe Cheney scribbled the detailed and principled portion of his reaction over on the Maureen Dowd side of the page that we can't see. Who knows, maybe Isikoff was cc'd in the original distribution of Cheney's handwritten annotation - and it had some serious challenges to Wilson's accuracy that Fitz doesn't even know about.

Or maybe Isikoff didn't even bother to look at the Fitzgerald filing before writing his article, the moron.

Re the "pro bono" comment -- this goes back to The Dick's pegging Wilson as a Democratic partisan. If Wilson had been paid a ton of cash to look into the yellowcake story then there'd be no reason to suspect he did it for nefarious political reasons. This is the Republican ethic, remember -- any act is justified as long as you're paid. It's those other reasons for action that are suspect.

Sorry about the double post -- some sort of gltich between preview and post...

fwiw larisa is happy to go on the record saying that Leopold's story is accurate.

oops - my comment above wasnt very clear. larisa told me that she backs up leopolds story - so that's another level of confirmation beyond 'just leopold.'

re:Wilson pro-bono

I find it odd that Wilson went pro-bono- at least odd the CIA would ask him to do that. They have a budget, they can pay people to do missions for them. I find it completely reasonable for Cheney to be asking "Is this normal"? I also find it telling that he asks that. To me it says, no it isn't normal to do this. Yet Joe Wilson agreed to those terms.

Wilson was starting a consulting company that did risk assessments for companies wanting to do business in foreign countries. For him, going to Niger was a boost to his business and his bona fides.

Crooked Lip, I suspect, is going to go the way of Spiro Agnew.

It will be interesting to see who the Chimperor appoints to pardon him.

"Wilson was starting a consulting company that did risk assessments for companies wanting to do business in foreign countries. For him, going to Niger was a boost to his business and his bona fides."

LOL!

You are talking about our Ambassador who saved the lives of Americans in Iraq and wore a noose around his own neck while facing down Saddam! If anybody already knows about the risks business-people face overseas, and assertive ways to protect them, Wilson does.

Furthermore, he has no need to pump up his bona fides. How would going on a quiet investigative trip (and it would have remained quiet if the Administration didn't keep lying about the WMDs), add luster to his experience as an ambassador (IIRC, it was multiple years and multiple countries). It is a wee bit hard to top "ambassador" as an item in the resume, unless your competition for the consulting gig was a Secretary of State.

Wilson did not need to go to Niger to help a fledgling business, and it was hardly a junket. Golfing in Scotland or flyfishing in Russia with other millionaires is a junket to improve business.

Yea, Agnew was indicted by a Baltimore Federal Grand Jury, and he pleaded No Contest to the charges with the provision that he resign his office. Nolo Condere pleas are to be understood as maybe not as guilty as charged, but I have no means of making that defense argument. The condition of the Judges accepting the Agnew Plea were very much attatched to his immediate formal resignation before accepting the plea.

The question of the impeachability of the VP was settled by letters to the prosecutors from the House Speaker and Chair of Judiciary to the effect that they dod not believe the common crime (taking bribes) that Agnew was charged with came under their jurisdiction, particularly because the bribes began long before Agnew had become VP. That meant the Federal Courts and the charging grand jury and prosecutor were the persons who could act.

So this makes the Cheney case a little different from Agnew, as Cheney probably will not be liable to something prior to his coming to office -- just his exercise of his office. The Agnew Case doesn't really set a precident for Cheney in this respect.

But I xhould add that with a 17% approval rate tacked on to his tail, I think he has already undergone a "Citizen's Impeachment."

In 1973-74 the effort was to keep Agnew away from the House Judiciary Committee for fear it could bog down the real work they had to do.

Maybe Cheney thinks the difference I outlined above is sufficient to bog down the Judiciary Committee till Kingdom come.

Best Outcome -- Fitzgerald indicts the non-constitutional officers now and names Cheney (and perhaps Bush) as unindicted co-conspirators) and then let's Wilson go ahead with his civil suit. A Civil suit would have no such exclusions, and with first Discovery, and then a couple of years from now a trial, they could be ruined and very much out of sorts, plus bankrupt.

I will second Jim E - I have little doubt that Fitzgerald wants Cheney the way I want... well, a cup of coffee, actually - but I don't think he has the case, and I doubt he is getting closer.

I agree with the *guess* that Libby was warned in Cheney presence by the CIA briefer - otherwise, within the OVP I would think Libby would be the senior officer present, and the briefer ought to be chatting with him, not chatting with someoine else while Libby listens (or not).

Interesting point about Rove not getting the "unfair game" warning.

And some quibbles - I would think the difference between "junket" and "boondoggle" actually cuts against Cheney, and ought to get more emphasis.

"Boondoggle", wbich was the characterization leaked to (IIRC) Pincus, is often used at the WaPo to describe a waste of money. Since, per the SSCI, the utility/necessity of the Wilson trip had been mooted even before he left, "boondoggle" is utterly defensible.

But "junket" pretty much only means pleasure trip - someone did a bit of message management with Cheney's leak.

I am scratching my head with this minor detail from the post in the Tell Judy section:

But for some reason, whatever he leaked to Judy on July 8 required Judy travel to DC for a meeting off-site, at the St. Regis Hotel.

If Judy was *not* based in Washington, I will print this thread and eat it. With coffee.

And a last thought - when I check Judy's personal account of her June 23 meeting with Libby, she makes no mention of the NIE - that only surfaces with an explicit mention on July 8. That makes "Tell Judy" a bit more innocuous.

And (since you raised it yesterday), the Wilson trip report was also classified, and Libby was trying to get that out. So he had lots to "Tell Judy", and at their second meeting he covered the Wilson trip, the NIE, and the wife.

TM-
You are not seriously quibbling with Cheney's extemporaneous notes on the use of the word "boondoggle" vs. "junket".
I'm looking at Merriem Webster right now, and junket is defined as "a trip made by an official at public expense." The idea that it implies only a pleasure trip is off-base, although if this trip were to potentiallly add to someone's personal coffers, I can't argue with that explanation either.
The point is, it was a mission outside the norm, and financed in an abnormal way for someone not a regular employee of the CIA.

hauksdottir- you could convince me that Wilson needed no help getting Consulting work if you could give me more information about how successful his consulting company actually was. It seems to me it has now more or less been abandonded.

Of course Wilson must have well understood the business risks of facing down Saddam, but Iraq isn't Africa and international risk assessment requires knowledge of many nations, not just one. You can only go so long on one success story, especially if Iraq isn't the venue of choice for the potential client.

Maybe,

Here's the case you're laying out: "I was Ambassador to Iraq during the build up to the first Gulf War, helping pull together our assessment of Saddam and his regime, their capabilities both military and diplomatic, AND 11 years later I spent 2 1/2 days in Niger ..."

Sure, it helps to prove you've got a broad range of experience at international risk assessment, but I don't know that this one small mission added all that much. I have trouble seeing it as a junket just because it added to his international experience. Either he had on-going experience or he didn't. The long weekend in Niamey didn't significantly change his resume.

Tom

Judy's location at the time, like her reporting structure, was fairly ambiguous. We know that she had a habit of submitting to whatever editor best served her purposes:

According to one of her editors, she worked stories for investigative one day, foreign the next, and the Washington bureau the day after. It was never clear who controlled or edited her. When one desk stymied her, she'd simply hustle over to another and pitch her story there. It was an editorial vacuum worsened by the absence of a top editor on the investigative unit, her nominal home. Between Doug Frantz's departure for the Los Angeles Times in March 2003 and Matthew Purdy's arrival in January 2004, Miller had almost no high-level supervision from editors with investigative experience.
According to Jill Abramson (whose veracity in matters Judy has been called into question), Judy was:
working primarily from the Washington bureau of The Times, reporting to Jill Abramson, who was the Washington bureau chief at the time, and was assigned to report for an article published July 20, 2003, about Iraq and the hunt for unconventional weapons, according to Ms. Abramson, who is now managing editor of The Times.

But we also know that Judy was negotiating with Roger Cohen, presumably in NY, on matters relating to Iraq.

"I told Judy that she could not go back," Roger Cohen, the foreign editor of the Times, told me recently. "There were concerns about her sources and her sourcing. . . . We talked about it in my office for an hour." Miller was able to prevail, however, and she returned briefly to Iraq, she later said, "to try to report on why the W.M.D. had not been found."

We do know two things. One, her home is/was Sag Harbor, NY (at least on July 12, so presumably also on July 8).

We also know that, in 2003, she had a desk in DC that she used when she was down in DC, but it got taken away in early 2004.

The paper's current [2004] policy is that any time Miller visits Washington, her editor Matthew Purdy must provide bureau chief Philip Taubman and his deputies with advance notice and explain her purpose for visiting. In January, the bureau officially deprived Miller of her desk. Although this was ostensibly done to make space, according to denizens of the bureau it had an intentional symbolic value, too. "It gave the bureau a way to move her out without saying it was moving her out," says a reporter.

From that, I'd say Judy was physically based in NY, managerially based primarily (but not definitively) in DC, but that her permanent desk location was still in NY.

My point still stands, though. If Judy was in DC on July 8, but "home" in Sag Harbor on July 12, then she traveled away from home for her meeting with Libby. (And, it should be noted, she held the meeting in a location off site from OVP.)

I'll let you decide whether you're eating (web)post toasties for breakfast.

MayBee

I think one could make a much more compelling argument that Wilson compromised his relations with Niger as a result of his trip. He went down there to meet with someone who had previous trusted Wilson enough that he let Wilson talk him into ceding control to a civil government. His role in the transition from military to civil rule in Niger was critical--but not publicized. As a result of his trip, Niger and Minister Mayaki in particular, got accused of all sorts of things they didn't do.

So how is it that this "junket" helped Wilson's consulting business?

One more thing, Tom

From Judy's account:

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, asked me whether Mr. Libby had shared classified information with me during our several encounters before Mr. Novak's article.

If I read that correctly, Fitzgerald asked about classified information throughout the "several" encounters, not just the July 8 one. Now, you're absolutely right that Judy suggests the NIE leaking came on July 8. But recall that Bennett read this article, and that Judy had had some problems getting released from contempt. I would imagine that Bennett would make sure to keep anything that dramatically affected Fitz' case out of the narrative.

Jeralyn Merritt--aka TalkLeft--called Luskin at home last night to see if he would confirm Leopold's indictment report. She explains that she did this because "I wanted to know if it was true." Luskin denied the report, but he spent most of the short call yelling at Merritt for calling him and it is unclear if he was even aware of the specific report he was denying.

Since then, in the comments of that post, Jeralyn says she's been in close e-mail contact with Leopold. She writes: "He's standing by the story. And yes, I believe him."

My question: if she believes him, why did she call Luskin? Did Leopold give her more info since she called Luskin? Did Leopold divulge his sources to TalkLeft? Why does she believe him now? After all, it seems she was doubtful enough at one point to call Luskin.

I am not registered at her site (I have my reasons), so I can't ask her these questions. The thing is, I find Jeralyn Merritt to be quite credible, so I find her general trust in Leopold's (and RawStorys') reporting rather intriguing and somewhat surprising.

I also find it strange that RawStory has yet to link to Leopold's Truthout "scoop." What's up with that?

In Jeralyn's other comments, she makes the point that she sees her role as analyzing news stories, not breaking them, and never claimed to be independently confirming Leopold's claims - only reporting that he and TruthOut had reported them and speculating on the legal implications IF they were true. She also added that she has a higher degree of confidence in Leopold than some of her commenters - if not, she wouldn't have referenced the story in the first place. But she called Luskin to try to address all of the controversy and the failure of the story to be picked up by any TM source (I guess we can't use TM for TraditionalMedia since Tom already owns it -- assuming he hasn't succumbed to the toxic ink in those Post Toasties.)

As for Leopold, he has demonstrated some erratic behavior with his anonymous -- then confessed -- "Harry Shep" posts here (assuming the confessor was really Leopold!) -- and, in fact, he seems to admit some periods of instability in his own autobiography, News Junkie. Maybe, as someone speculated, he has no sources. It's hard to guess, as I still find the most confusing part of this whole mystery to be the mechanics of how and why these sources do what they do.

All that said, it's not that impossible for Leopold to come out of this smelling like a rose. He would look awfully good if:

1) Rove is indicted this week
2) Wurmser and Hannah turn out to have flipped long ago
3) Hadley is either indicted or shown to have flipped long ago

I still think this whole 'Outing of a covert officer', was more about 'WHAT' Valerie Plame and her 'team' were doing in their 'day job' (so to speak), then to 'get back' at Joe Wilson.

Outing her, did a couple of things at the same time.
1. It closed down Ms Plame and her team. It also closed down the 'Cover' company as well.
2.It effectively closed our 'eyes' (not only in the Middle East) re; The Black market, WMD's, International Criminal types, etc.

It also sent a message to 'others' who may have something to say re; Bush and Co' that nothing was sacred.

With all the focus being on 'those sixteen words' and the whole Joe Wilson angle, nobody was looking for any other reason behind the Outing.


However, beyond closing the door on our ability to monitor the 'Dark Side', it also put anyone, who had worked with or 'knew' Ms Plame, anyone who worked for the same/connected companies, or anyone connected to same, at serious risk.
I think that once the mid-level players have all been indicted, arrested, copped a plea, etc for lesser charges, the bigger fish are looking at being tried for Treason..


I try to avoid doing this kind of thing, but here are some thoughts on the Leopold scoop. As I said above, I'm not doubting Leopold may be reporting on events that have happened or scoops he received. But I'm not always sure he interprets them accurately or cautiously. In this case, take two seeming conrtradictory claims from his story:

Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs

[snip]

Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove

Maybe it's just me, but common usage for activities that go on during business hours would call 15 hours an entire day--a long one at that (particularly when you consider that Fitz normally commutes in from Chicago, often returning at the end of the day). The discrepancy is odd--I don't know whether it suggests conflicting stories about the meeting or an unexpectedly long meeting, but it reinforces my questions about how to interpret events. Also, when I see details like this from Leopold (and I do, frequently), I question whether anyone has edited his story, and therefore whether anyone has checked his logic.

Well, Jeralyn takes from Leopold's scoop (and I'd point out that his reporting has never committed to whether Rove gets an obstruction charge) that they were plea shopping. She argues the plea bargain probably failed. But given the time inconsistency, I don't know. Particularly given the lack of clarity about obstruction, and the stated involvement of the sources involved, I suspect there is still an ongoing discussion about obstruction. Which is, of course, the charge that almost certainly would involve other people at WH. (Also note, if you buy my "emails tampered after the fact", then it involves people at WH in a conspiracy to obstruct justice, not just obstruction, because I'm guessing at the least Karl, Susan Ralston, Adam Levine, and some IT guy.) So I think it possible that there may be more on that obstruction charge than just a debate whether to charge. (Also, wouldn't some of this require returning to the GJ? I dunno.)

Add in a few more points. Anyone know where Karl was on Friday, during that 15 hour or 4 hour period? Any chance he was at Patton Boggs? If I were trying for a plea bargain, I might spend a while at my lawyer's office. Or, hell, if I had negotiated a plea bargain, the first thing I would do is sit at my lawyer's office being interviewed, making a statement on what I will testify to the GJ.

Also, remember that Fitz was (deliberately, I'd argue) vague about people who might have plea agreements when Wells asked about them, a week ago Friday, two days after the GJ supposedly made their decision on these charges.

And finally, the always unreliable Wayne Madsen claims to have staked out the court room and noticed (though why the rest of the MSM didn't, I don't know) that while everyone was looking for Fitz, a convoy that snuck into the basement of the court house. Madsen suggested this was Abu Gonzales (former WH counsel, and the guy who sat on all the subpoenaed material for 2 weeks), appearing before the GJ. Now again, this might be another incidence of reporting an event (though I do think Madsen is a lot less reliable than Leopold). But it would be consistent with a concerted movement forward on larger conspiracy charges related to Fall 2003.

Oh, one more point I wanted to make. So if Rove had gotten a plea on Friday, or were in the middle of being interviewed in relation to a plea bargain, or if it had so far failed but would be reopened on Monday, or if the Democrat Luskin were having a hard time getting his GOP kingmaker Rove to take the sound advice that any lawyer would give, to accept a plea at this point, or if the Luskin machine had invested energy earlier in the week (think Tweety, a very reliable Rove mouthpiece) confusing the events, I might be angry if a lawyer/blogger called up just before 10 (not that late, I'm sorry) threatening to interrupt his well-laid media spin.

EW, Sara
The consensus view -- including that of the DoJ, which analyzed the issue intensively in 1973 re Agnew -- is that a sitting Vice-President can be indicted (while a sitting POTUS cannot). Then-Solicitor General Robert Bork is in fact the one who wrote the legal opinion. Also there is another precedent beyond Agnew -- Vice President Aaron Burr was indicted by two states for the murder of Hsmilton. So, no constitutional impediment to indicting Deadeye.

Thanks, Sebastian. If we can do it directly, then by all means, indict the fucker.

Leopold was apparently just interviewed on a radio show. A commenter at FDL posted summaries of the interview.

Basically, Leopold stands by his story and says that he will out his sources if it turns out they led him astray on this story. He referred to his story as "bulletproof." He was apparently vague and/or confused about what a "sealed" indictment actually is, and defended himself by saying that he's not a lawyer. Leopold says that the Fitz line about Rove getting 24 hours to get his affairs in order refers to MOnday. THerefore, according to Leopold, this will all happen (announcement of Rove's indictment, ROve's resignation) AFTER Monday--basically between Tuesday and Friday.

So by Friday, either Leopold's reporting will be vindicated, or he will be outing his source(s). I really don't know what to think.

I do know that I'm hoping and wishing that Leopold is right (heck, I will even sheepishly admit I bought a cheapo bottle of champagne last Thursday based on the rumors), but this sounds fishy.

Let's say Rove is singing like a canary and has flipped and gotten a sweet deal. Wouldn't it be in his own best interest to gin up controversy and rumors about his own imminent demise? The benefits of Rove doing this would be two-fold: One, he'd appear to have dodged yet another bullet and look like a victorious badass mofo when nothing happens, and Two, it might throw others in the OVP (and Libby) off the scent that he's actually secretly turned on members in the White House. Finally, it would have the added benefit of making the liberal-lefty blogosphere look like a bunch of chumps for believing the rumors. By creating a Fortunate Son/Rathergate memo thing with Leopold, Rove will scare other reporters from any continued pursuit of the story.

Well, at this point, I've created a ridiculous Rove-created conspiracy, so I'd better stop. But given the breathless Shuster, Matthews, and Leopold "reporting" on this, I'm increasingly inclined to think Rove is in the clear. If I've learned anything politically since 2000, it's that I shouldn't ever get my hopes up too high.

And RawStory *still* hasn't touched the Leopold story. Not even a link. That doesn't bode well. Atrios has stayed away, too.

Of course, Kevin Drum, of all people, did publicize the story, so go figure.

Jim E--I'd say I've got all the reservations you do. But if he's going to out his source, that does put things in a different light. Seems that we'll know by Thursday, if not before (as we'll know a lot more on the rest of the case).

EW, a correction about Madsen (noticed as I linked to this yesterday). Madsen suggests that Abu went to the courthouse as a formality regarding a Rove indictment. Apparently this occurred before the Libby indictment, he says Gonzales had the opportunity to ask the GJ questions about the decision.

Is Madsen always unreliable? Oftentimes his stuff is so obscure it's awfully hard to know.

Oh yeah, I was misrepresenting what I said. I think it more likely that Abu G was testifying than chatting with the GJ. But I do think he is generally unreliable. So it's probably moot anyway.

Here are a couple of questions about Cheney's notations and Libby, basically trying to figure out where they fit in the narrative. The basic question is: When did Libby see Cheney's annotated Wilson, or hear from Cheney the question about whether Wilson's wife sent him on a junket? Specifically, was it before or after Libby's conversation with Russert? Before or after the July 12 conversations with Cooper and Miller? And the July 8 conversation with Miller? Does Fitzgerald know, and if so, how? How does Fitzgerald know that Libby learned of the substance of Cheney's notes anyway?

We know from Fitzgerald's 4-5-06 the following (at p. 19):

At some point after the publication of the July 6, 2003 Op Ed by Mr. Wilson, Vice President Cheney, defendant's immediate superior, expressed concerns to defendant regarding whether Mr. Wilson's trip was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson's wife.

This obviously echoes the language of Cheney's annotation, and in fact it seems likely that Fitzgerald is suggesting that Cheney passed his annotations to Libby. (The Post article today says that Fitzgerald states that Cheney did so, but it doesn't - I suspect this is just a reasonable guess based on what Fitzgerald said on 4-5-06.) How does Fitzgerald know that, if he does? And what about the apparent uncertainty about the timing? Is Fitzgerald holding back, or does he know this? Obviously, if it was before Libby's conversation with Russert, this is yet another instance of Libby hearing about Wilson's wife immediately before the Russert conversation he claims he learned about Plame in as though for the first time. But then why leave it out of the indictment?

Jeff,

The simplest (but by no means exclusive) answer to your question is that the Cheney article came from Libby's files.

Will Mary tell Bill that's she's haveing Rogers baby? Does Margret know about Richards affair with the pool boy? Where will Bob get the money to pay the hit man to kill his evil boss? These are the days of our lives and the future is not ours to see so tune in tomorrow to find the answers to these important questions!

ooops wrong thread ...

If anybody's having an affair with Pool Boy, my money's on Karl.

But yes, this whole thing does remind me of a soap opera that hooks you in with a seductive plot, and then makes up one ridiculous subplot after the next without ever tying them all together.

And yet ... I'm still glued to the tube. Somebody pull the plug.

Jeff,

If I had to guess, I'd say he knows when it was, but that it's part of his slow reveal. Assume, for the moment, that he knows that took place at the same time as Libby received instructions to "tell Judy" something and the same time he and Libby formulate talking points for Ari. Well, I can see why he wouldn't want to reveal it (because it would pertain to a different crime).

Re: Lifestyles of the rich and famous - Sag Harbor is a nice weekend spot not far from the even tonier Hamptons. Judy's hubby, Jason Epstein, has a place there, but I would be surprised if it is her primary base of operations. (Nice dirt in this link).

Forgive me if I've missed discussion of this elsewhere, but one of the other very interesting things about Fitzgerald's most recent filing is its introduction of the Wall Street Journal editorial from July 17 2003 into the mix, and I haven't seen a lot on this yet. So Fitzgerald makes clear that this is the other instance of the NIE being disclosed on the basis of the President's pre-July 18 authorization/declassification(?) to Libby via Cheney, and that Libby did it via another government official. Who was that? We can rule out anyone at NSC, CIA or State, on the basis of Fitzgerald's 4-5-06 claim that no one at those agencies knew anything about the pre-July 18 declassification - the only likely candidate, anyway, would have been Hadley; but I would have thought him a very likely candidate. It could be someone in the OVP, if the WSJ is excluding OVP from the White House (the WSJ says this didn't come from the White House); or, I suppose, Defense or Congress.

Whoever it was, check out what else they were leaking:

But we are told that language identical to what was in the NIE is what the CIA presented to the White House last January 24 in preparation for President Bush's State of the Union address.

This is, almost certainly, the January 24, 2003 NIO-to-NSC (Walpole to, probably, Hadley) fax that just repackaged the February 2002 DIA report on the uranium story, whose language was just used apparently verbatim (or close) for the little bit on African uranium in the october 2002 NIE. It's that report that (also almost certainly) was the third document - along with the NIE, which was declassified in part, and the CIA report on Wilson's trip, which was not - that, according to Fitzgerald's 4-5-06 filing, the administration was pressing to have declassified:

Defendant testified in the grand jury that he understood that even in the days following his conversation with Ms. Miller, other key officials - including Cabinet level officials - were not made aware of the earlier declassification even as those officials were pressed to carry out a declassification of the NIE, the report about Wilson's trip and another classified document dated January 24, 2003.

For pretty obvious reasons, this document was key in the White House effort to defend themselves in July 2003, as the WSJ article suggests. The other place it shows up to play a White House-friendly role, interestingly enough, is in Sanger and Miller's July 23 2003 NYT article covering the embarrassing July 22 press conference by Hadley and Bartlett. Somebody also asked a question about it at that July 22 press conference.

I still want to know whether this January 24, 2003 document was or was not declassified. My thought is that perhaps it was declassified along with the NIE on July 18, and the NIE just got all the attention, except for from Sanger and Miller, who maybe just maybe had its significance drawn to their attention by oh I don't know who. It would, of course, be more interesting if, like the CIA report from Wilson's trip, it was not declassified, and Sanger and/or Miller got a leak of it anyway for July 23, just like the WSJ got a leak of it when it was still classified for their July 17 editorial.

The now clear role that this January 24, 2003 document played in the White House effort makes me ever more interested in that other January 2003 document that the WaPo recently reported on for the first time - a NIC memo meant to answer the Pentagon's request for an authoritative judgment on the Niger story, which declared the story baseless and something that should be laid to rest. The memo made it to the White House before the SOTU, when exactly we do not know. We don't know who it went to at the White House, what they did with it, who learned of it, whether there is any relationship between this document and the document from NIO Walpole to the NSC. Amazingly, this document appears nowhere in either the SSCI report or Robb-Silberman.

Please please some enterprising reporter take up this issue; if it pans out, it's a really big story. Why none of them seems to think so is beyond me.

Just for point of reference, the WSJ article explains why Greg Hitt and Paul Gigot were included in the subpoena list in January 2004.

Also of note, they claim the Niger claim came from the Brits. Which it didn't. I've emailed eRiposte for more details, but I wonder whether the January 24 document and this leak were an attempt to recuperate the validity of the Niger claim by claiming it came from the Brits. (Novak, of course, specified it came from the Italians in his column.)

No more details on the British claim in the SSCI passage on the January 24 document:

(U) On January 24, 2003, in response to a request from the NSC for additional details regarding IC input to "the case for Saddam possessing weapons of mass destruction," the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs faxed a packet of background information to the NSC. The fax contained the information from the October 2002 NIE on Iraq's vigorous attempts to procure uranium ore and yellowcake from Niger and other countries in Africa. The information was used to prepare for Secretary Powell's presentation of intelligence to the UN in February 2003.

But it looks like the real reason for the leak to WSJ was because someone didn't think the Tenet statement was strong enough:

Mr. Tenet's carefully calibrated statement and disclosure last Friday accepting responsibility for this "mistake" was more tortured than warranted by the assertions in the NIE.

As we've seen, Tenet's mea culpa was balanced, but even it misrepresented what the NIE said. But I would bet the WSJ closely maps some of the language that was going on in the still mysterious Libby Rove Tenet discussions (or non-discussions).

emptywheel-
"As a result of his trip, Niger and Minister Mayaki in particular, got accused of all sorts of things they didn't do."

Did they? As a result of this trip get accused of things they didn't do? I don't see that, and I certainly don't see that happening for over a year. Besides, I don't think Joe needed fantastic contacts in Niger for his business so much as he needed to say, "Well, I was just in Niger talking to the Prime Minister..." to potential clients. Clients which might include the US Government in the future. (Isn't that how a lot of these guys make their money?)
Regardless, the problem we have is that Wilson did indeed agree to go on a small mission for the CIA for very little pay. We are left to decide whether he is simply the most patriotic man in the the world, taking on a low-profile trip, time away from his family and his burgeoning consulting company, to do this mission for his country while not asking to be compensated (no no America, you keep the $5000). OR he felt there was something in it for him. Or a combination of both.
The idea that he went on the mission *thinking* it could help him make some money in the future is not preposterous.

whether the January 24 document and this leak were an attempt to recuperate the validity of the Niger claim by claiming it came from the Brits

No, as your next comment suggests, those are distinct items in the WSJ's defense of the White House. The January 24 document basically serves to argue: immediately before the Bush said the 16 words in the SOTU, the intelligence community reaffirmed for the White House exactly what was said in the October 2002 NIE on the subject of uranium from Africa (and maybe the fax was just the NIE, not the February 2002 document on which the NIE's uranium section was based, as the SSCI text you cite seems to say). So Bush was on solid ground in believing in good faith in the 16 words.

But beyond that, the WSJ is arguing that the NIE, and hence the January 24 document, was more definitive, less doubtful, than Tenet had just suggested (and I think you're right another thing the WSJ is doing is responding to the part of Tenet's remarkable rhetorical performance that undermined the White House, and led somebody, per Pincus, in the White House to blackberry, "We're screwed"). And beyond that, the WSJ is saying not only was Bush at the time of the SOTU literally speaking correct - and also justified - in referring the claim to the British, but the British still stand by their claim and its intel basis, so the White House should stop being so apologetic, even if the documents were forgeries. (We pretty much know now that most of that is bs, but whatever.) And then finally the WSJ shifts to the point that regardless of any of this, everybody thought Saddam had wmd, a mountain of evidence.

Sorry, let me go back and explain further.

First, is it possible the Jan 24 document is the NIE WITH THE DETAIL that it came from the Brits? This would be particularly interesting, given the debate going on at PRECISELY THAT TIME between Joseph and Foley.

THe leak to WSJ is weak, really. In my mind, the only DETAIL offered is the Brit claim (which we know to be false). In other words, they try to refute Tenet by reporting exactly what Tenet has reported, but giving less of its context and none of the caveats.

I also wonder about audience, WSJ opinion. Were they trying to keep the nuts in line, knowing they couldn't adequately refute Tenet for people who had a modicum of reading comprehension. In any case, I suspect the story on the WSJ has as much to do with the reaction to Tenet and the way they snuck the Brit claim back in there (either in January or in July).

Maybee: This obsession with Wilson ... jeez ... what part of "Bush tried to pretend Saddam had nukes when he knew he didn't and repeatedly used unfounded character assassination to defeat political opponents" is so hard to understand? He just finally got caught red-handed, and even if you think the ends justify the means, the ends in this case have been an unmitigated disaster. What is it going to take to get you and yours to unhinge your pitbull jaws from Joe Wilson's ankle and take a look at the bigger picture?

I find it kind of interesting that TeamLibby hasn't posted anything new to their web site since 4/12. What's up with that? Is Barb Comstock on hiatus or vacation in the Seychelles or something? Seems to me that they're burning through the $500 an hour fees pretty quickly, yet the website isn't keeping its donors apprised of events.

I am still reading 1977 history and before; that was the year Cheney became chief of staff for two years for Jerry Ford; Colson was replaced as head of CIA the same month Cheney got the CoS job. Cheney had done some interesting things previously; there is so much out there on the web about Iran Contra I still have not refreshed the memory of his comportment on the hearing committee. He even worked for OEO for a while; he did some fairly moderate things, besides working for Ford, who was the consensus candidate, the gent from the House of Representatives who had the respect of both sides of the aisle. The depictions of Cheney now seem nearly unrecognizable, given a lot of the moderate things he did in the past. His official website biography is very barebones; and there are some fairly lurid websites with lots of tinfoil hypothesis about him. I understand most of the people at this current website are fairly expert about much of this; my own shortcoming, I guess, though I am studying when I have a moment.
Here is a strange view that depicts Cheney as deploying a subterfuge to protect Iran-Contra indictees by arm twisting the venerable Lee Hamilton, whom I thought a principled and meticulous guide at the time, though in these latter times, I have had questions about some of the generalizations he issued during the 911 factfinding.

obsessed- I was addressing an issue brought up on this website, in this thread, which was the perceived absurdity of the contention that Wilson went on the trip to Niger to benefit himself in some way. I don't find that absurd, I find it quite plausible. In fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, so I don't know how that qualifies as "character assassination".

Would it be bad if Joe Wilson took on the mission in the hopes of improving his contacts and profile as a consultant (either in the US government or in a foreign country?)? No. It would be smart. Smarter, in fact, than taking on a non-paying mission for no good reason at all. I guess I don't understand why it is important to dismiss the idea. It doesn't make Wilson more right or more wrong on any of the larger issues.

Jeff:

Sanger and Miller have got a straight NIE parentage for the language in the January 24 Walpole to Hadley. You've got a more complex parentage: it's really February 2002 DIA report language, which also made it to the NIE.

What the Wall Street Journal says seems to allow for your more complicated parentage: "But we are told that language identical to what was in the NIE is what the CIA presented to the White House last January 24"

How do you know or suspect this? How do you know the January 24 was a fax? Would you have a link to any information about that February 2002 DIA?

Also: I've never been able to find a transcript of the July 22 Hadley/Bartlett press conference. Has anyone got one?

John

Oh, Cheney was definitely playing games with the Iran Contra inevstigation. Lawrence Walsh makes that pretty clear. As he makes clear (as do Robert Parry's earlier books) that Hamilton was a chump. The GOP had exactly who they wanted, on the House side, running that "get out of jail by getting immunity" gig. ANd it was probably that intentional.

MayBee

I'm curious. Are you familiar with Wilson's 1999 trips to Niger? Because what you're arguing doesn't seem to make any sense if you know about Wilson's work in 1999.

eez ... what part of "Bush tried to pretend Saddam had nukes when he knew he didn't and repeatedly used unfounded character assassination to defeat political opponents" is so hard to understand?

Let's break for light comedy - I don't understand the part about "Bush tried to pretend Saddam had nukes", since both the intel and the WH message were that Saddam had nuclear *aspirations*, not nukes themselves - how close he was getting was meant to be indicated by the news that he was seeking (Niger) uranium for his (alunminum tube) centrifuges.

As to Maybee's interest in Wilson's motivation, I concur - let's just say, pro bono trip - cui bono?

Wilso-philes may accept at face value the notion that Wilson went simply because he is a Great American (and that may be the truth).

However, I think it is unreasonable for Wilso-philes to further insist that Cheney was out of line for wondering, on July 6 2003, whether some other explanation than "Great American" covered it.

Consequently, to say that Cheney was launching his smear of Wilson by asking about the background of his trip strikes me as a stretch predicated on the notion that even wondering is unreasonable.

(As to the position of Wilso-philes, I'll just cite Saltinwound from 18:37:

What the fuck kind of boondoggle is pro bono? Was that part of the original smear and I missed it? His wife sent him on a pro bono boondoggle! Why would they think it would impeach Wilson that he isn't in it for the money?

Well, what bothers me about the Leopold report is more circumstances than messenger. It is his claim that Fitz indicted Rove, in some sense, but didn't make a public announcement and report it to the media - huh? It doesn't scan, much as I want to believe it. Please dear whatever make it so - this not panning out would lead to such a sobbing, curled-into-fetal-position letdown - but then maybe we'll get Cheney as a consolation pony!

Keep digging, there's gotta be a pony in there somewhere!

If ignorance is being used as a defence then doesn't this definition of criminal negligence:

To constitute a crime, there must be an actus reus (Latin for "guilty act") accompanied by the mens rea (see concurrence). Negligence shows the least level of culpability, intention being the most serious and recklessness of intermediate seriousness, overlapping with gross negligence. The distinction between recklessness and criminal negligence lies in the presence or absence of foresight as to the prohibited consequences. Recklessness is usually described as a 'malfeasance' where the defendant knowingly exposes another to the risk of injury. The fault lies in being willing to run the risk. But criminal negligence is a 'misfeasance or 'nonfeasance' (see omission), where the fault lies in the failure to foresee and so allow otherwise avoidable dangers to manifest. In some cases this failure can rise to the level of wilful blindness where the individual intentionally avoids adverting to the reality of a situation (note that in the United States, there may sometimes be a slightly different interpretation for wilful blindness). The degree of culpability is determined by applying a reasonable person standard. Criminal negligence becomes "gross" when the failure to foresee involves a "wanton disregard for human life" (see the discussion in corporate manslaughter).

-doesn't this definition imply they are at least guilty of criminal negligence? Especially in light of the fact that they are the civilian executive officers of the agency in question and that it would be their duty, responsibilty and obligation to know the facts.

Team Libby's filed another motion, which talk left has put up. Filed 5/12:

http://talkleft.com/libbyresp512.pdf

Tom,
I don't think the "Wilso-philes" accept nor deny the motivations of Wilson. I think most simply have looked at the substance of his findings and have concluded they were more evidence that Bush lied. I agree one should not overlook motivations, but shouldn't one also look at what he actually said as well?

I just wish they'd get their story correct. Was it that Wilson had other motivations and business aspirations or was it that his wife sent him and therefore her nepotism caused him to be unqualified?

Through watching this administration, I have found it interesting and sad how they so often attempt to discredit the message by attacking the messenger - and how quickly people fall for it.

Jeff, EW,

Since I've been busy this weekend, I didn't have any time to write up an analysis of these various documents, but here are some quick observations which I will hopefully elaborate on in a post later this week.

The reference to the Brits (as the source of the NIE "evidence") in the WSJ opinion piece, as EW rightly points out, is false. The WSJ article doesn't say that their source told them that the foreign government service referred to the British - so it could have been someone in the Bush White House feeding them the nonsense or it could be the WSJ editorial board lying on their own as is their normal practice.

Note that the use of the Jan 24, 2003 Walpole fax (or any other document produced before the SOTU) was just another part of the fraudulent game the White House was playing to try and turn around the PR disaster. Not only did the CIA aggressively try to get the WH to kill the uranium claim immediately after the NIE was published, Foley made it clear to Joseph immediately prior to the SOTU that the WH cannot refer to the uranium claim from U.S. IC reporting (also included in the NIE). So, their peddling the Jan 24 document (which appears to have been copies of pages from the NIE) - which clearly happened prior to the Foley-Joseph interactions was simply an attempt to deceive the reporters they were targeting.

Jeff observed correctly that the use of the Jan 24 fax "...basically serves to argue: immediately before the Bush said the 16 words in the SOTU, the intelligence community reaffirmed for the White House exactly what was said in the October 2002 NIE on the subject of uranium from Africa (and maybe the fax was just the NIE, not the February 2002 document on which the NIE's uranium section was based, as the SSCI text you cite seems to say). So Bush was on solid ground in believing in good faith in the 16 words." However, this was clearly an attempt to deliberately deceive by omission - by leaving out the fact that *after* the Jan 24 document was received by the WH, even WINPAC (via Foley) had told the WH to not refer to the U.S. IC's reporting on uranium because it was not credible.

There's another serious deception in this whole operation that was set in place post-Wilson. The CIA had considered the British claim to be bunk and had told the WH as such. Bush mentioned the British because the CIA would not stand by the credibility of the US reporting on uranium. The WH was simultaneously arguing that it didn't matter what Wilson or the CIA said because Bush only referred to the Brits. Yet, the (bogus) "supporting evidence" they were reeling out was the U.S. IC intel which they claimed was NOT the basis of Bush's statement. In other words, this was an elaborate fraud.

There's of course the other detail that the British "evidence" (which we have known for long to be bogus vaporware) was itself based on "evidence" that claimed that Iraq had purchased uranium, not just that Iraq had "sought" uranium.

So, their citing the made-up British claim to support the Saddam "sought" uranium hoax was packing in additional deceit.

Garrett

I was probably conflating two different points: the January 24, 2003 document rehashed the NIE. And then the basis of the NIE, where I believe the language on uranium procurement goes back to the February 2002 DIA report, which is the very report that prompted Cheney to ask the CIA for more info, which prompted the CIA to do a mission to Niger, and get Wilson to do it, and you know the rest.

The January 24 2003 document is described as a fax of background information in the SSCI report, p. 63.

The Febrauary 2002 DIA report is treated in the SSCI also. I believe the connection between that report and the October 2002 NIE's section on uranium is escaping me at the moment - I believe it's tucked away somewhere in the SSCI or the Robb-Silberman report. There also was some reporting on it, from Pincus, I'm pretty sure.

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